Awan Brothers Scandal Creates Fears About Scope Of Data Leak
by Kenneth Whittle
Over the past few months, the story of the Awan brothers has been largely ignored by mainstream media. However, the brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan are at the center of a criminal investigation by U.S. Capital Hill Police. The Awan brothers were Pakistani IT specialists, whom worked for more than 30 house and senate democrats, as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The substantial scandal has raised questions about who may have been passed data which the Awans had access to, given Pakistan’s history of collaborating with a number of foreign countries who have demonstrated past willingness to influence U.S. politics.
The family was paid extremely well, with Imran Awan being paid nearly $2 million working as an IT support staffer for House Democrats since 2004. Abid Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were each paid more than $1 million working for House Democrats. In total, since 2003, the family has collected nearly $5 million.
The staffer’s services were so important to congressional members, that on March 22, 2016, eight democrat members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a letter, requesting that their staffers be granted access to Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). Of those that signed the letter were representatives Jackie Speier (CA) and Andre Carson (IN), the second Muslim in Congress, both of whom employed the Awan brothers.
The brothers were also employed by members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, such as: Jackie Speier (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). Lieu has since openly called for leaks by members of President Trump’s administration despite the fact that he may until recently have been under surveillance by a foreign entity.
One bombshell that has been all but ignored by the main stream media is that Imran Awan had access to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s iPad password, meaning that the brothers also had direct access to the notorious DNC emails.
The brothers are accused of removing hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment from congressional offices, including computers and servers, while also running a procurement scheme in which they bought equipment, then overcharged the House administrative office that assigns such contractors to members.
Some congressional technology aides believe that the Awan’s are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, due to the fact that these representatives have displayed unwavering and intense loyalty towards the former aides.
For example, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), once named one of the most corrupt members of Congress, had at one time or another employed each of the brothers has stated that they were being “falsely targeted because they are Muslims, some with ties to Pakistan.”
According to Pat Sower, who has managed IT services for several members of Congress, something is amiss: “There’s no question about it: If I was accused of a tenth of what these guys are accused of, they’d take me out in handcuffs that same day, and I’d never work again.”
On February 20th, 2017, the Daily Caller reported that investigators found that congressional information was being copied to an off-site server, implying that the brothers were improperly accessing information and stealing congressional property.
According to one congressional staffer, the Awan’s set up a remote access so they could connect from wherever they are, and have full access to everything on the member’s system.
Despite being ordered by Capitol police that he was no longer to come near House servers, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) has kept Imran, whom is the suspect in a major criminal investigation, on in an “advisory position” in order to get around police orders.
Terror Ties And Unravelling Of Scandal
The security breach of congressional data may have actually benefitted terrorists indirectly. According to a former CIA source close to Townhall columnist Fred Fleitz, whom has held national security jobs for 25 years with the CIA, DIA, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff, the Awan brothers may have ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI.
The Awan’s had reportedly received a $100,000 loan from Dr. Ali al-Attar, an Iraqi politician. Dr. Attar is currently wanted by the U.S., and has also been linked to Iranian-backed Hezbollah. According to Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, after giving the loan to the Awan brothers in 2012, Dr. Attar was “observed in Beirut, Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official.” Dr. Attar is also accused of helping provoke the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a leader of Iraqi dissidents opposed to then President Saddam Hussein.
On May 22, 2017, the Daily Caller reported that one of the suspects, Hina Alvi, has since fled to Pakistan, where her family is said to have significant assets and VIP-level protection. According to court documents, the Awan brothers are treated as VIPs by Pakistani officials, traveling throughout the country with a police motorcade. This brings about the question: Why are simple House IT staffers provided the protection and security similar to that of diplomats?
Debbie Wasserman Schultz Threatens Capitol Police
On May 24, at the annual police budget hearing, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz used her position on the committee to challenge the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, of his departments confiscation of a laptop owned by Imran Awan. The laptop was found by police after it had been hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Schultz demanded that the police relinquish custody of the laptop and have it returned to her office. However, because the laptop was the property of Imran Awan, whom is under criminal investigation, the chief refused to comply with Schultz orders. This lead to Schultz openly threatening the chief, stating that she believed his department was “violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences.”
Pakistan’s Ties To U.S., China, Saudi Arabia and Israel
The apparent infiltration of DNC politicians and government systems by the Awan brothers is significant given Pakistan’s strategic ties to other countries who have also attempted to wield influence in the U.S. The United States and China both have a long history operating in Pakistan for various purposes such as political influence and trade. Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show that the United States began a concerted drive to use Pakistan’s mountainous western regions as a springboard for training and deploying mujahideen groups which the U.S. would use to further policy objectives around the Middle East.
Former President Barack Obama also has some past ties to Pakistan. During the 2008 Presidential election, it was reported that President Barrack Obama had taken a trip to Pakistan in 1981. During this trip, Obama stayed with his college friend Ali Hasan Chandoo. The Chandios are considered to be the largest landlords in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Hasan also donated $50,000 – $100,000 to Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign.
The Barack H. Obama Foundation was founded in 2008 at the home of Alton Ray Baysden. A former Special Agent for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Baysden has also previously served as a Counselor with the U.S. Embassies in Haiti, Pakistan, Syria, and the Ivory Coast.
As a regional superpower and one of the main competitors to the United States, China has increasingly competed with American interests for influence in the country. According to China Daily, economic cooperation between the two countries increased substantially after China re established ties to the United States in 1979. China and Pakistan have recently begun to collaborate on a number of infrastructure projects, development of nuclear capabilities and military collaboration which would include the deployment of Chinese troops in Pakistan.
China has also begun to boost Pakistani claims regarding sovereignty and territorial integrity as a part of its drive to develop the “One Belt, One Road” project which is a cornerstone of President Xi Jinping’s strategy to rival the United States as a superpower. On May 9th, 2017, Indian news source The Economic Times reported that India was contesting renewed Chinese claims that Pakistan’s claims to the regions to Jammu and Kashmir were not final and should be renegotiated.
Pakistan also maintains close ties with countries who have a history of attempting to influence U.S. policy and politics such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has a long history of collaboration with Pakistan, especially in military affairs. The country also gave considerable financial backing to the Clinton Foundation, a matter which generated significant controversy during the 2016 presidential election.
Despite officially frosty relations between Israel and Pakistan, the two countries have routinely collaborated together in the past. Pakistani news source the Daily Times has noted that this cooperation began during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and continues to this day. In 2010, Wikileaks cables revealed that Pakistan’s ISI and Israel routinely collaborate on matters relating to terrorism. It was also alleged in 2013 that Israel provided Pakistan with high tech defense equipment which was acquired via the United Kingdom. Like Saudi Arabia, Israel has similarly been criticized by academics and observers for using it’s influence in the United States to formulate U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
The close ties that Pakistan maintains to countries which have a history of meddling in U.S. affairs creates concerns about where the data which the Awan brothers had access to might have ultimately ended up. The Awans ties to terror groups similarly indicate that the security breach may have resulted in information being passed directly to extremists.